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My Internet: Magdalene Taylor
The culture and sex writer finds that people are increasingly using Twitter like Tumblr.
Most weeks, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet., an essay from which apparently introduced Norman Finkelstein to the concept of “gooning.” Magdalene reduced her iPhone screen time by playing Nintendo Switch, lurks in r/BackwoodsCreepy and r/CensoredforBetas, and enjoys little more than watching Korn videos while imbibing with friends. —Nick
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EMBEDDED: What’s a recent meme or post that made you laugh?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I have an extremely low-brow taste for memes and funny posts and my algorithm knows that. I like just about every gorilla video that comes across my feed. This isn’t recent by any means but I see this video of gorillas trying to avoid the rain from 2019 probably once a week and I laugh every time.
As for more topical memes, the clip of Vince McMahon trying not to cry is a hit for me. Maybe that one is already old. I’ve been traveling for the last three weeks and have mercifully been less online than usual.
EMBEDDED: What shows up on your TikTok For You page?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I’m going to try not to lie and tell you precisely what the next five TikToks I see when I open the app are.
“All David Bowie songs in 1967:” featuring a young man singing whimsical tunes in a rather spot-on early Bowie voice.
One of these new-ish, awful TikTok shop videos that’s partially an ad, partially not, for a blowout brush. My feed is bombarded with these types of videos lately, mostly for this specific brush. I am an avid Dyson Airwrap user and also love the Revlon one, so I’m all set on the brushes. NEXT!!!!
Not an ad, but a re-post of an old Wen advertisement from an account sharing exclusively 90s and 2000s commercials.
A young woman discussing why she much prefers age-gap relationships with older men. She enjoys that her man doesn’t know how to use a phone at all, but does know more about life and have more general knowledge than men her age.
A man who looks like Jesus holding crystals performing energy healing through my phone while invoking archangel Raphael. I stay and watch the entire video every time he shows up for me.
EMBEDDED: Do you still tweet? Why?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I still tweet because I like attention, and I like sharing my work. Twitter is by far where I receive the most engagement and have had the most success cultivating a readership. I also just find it fun, even after all this time. I’ve been on Twitter since I was like, 14.
EMBEDDED: What do you use Instagram for?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: Similar to Twitter, I use Instagram for attention. I’m more of a stories poster than a grid poster, though I’d like to post to the grid more frequently. It just feels so much less casual nowadays, though. I hope we can return to the more free-flowing, fun style of Instagram posting of 2016. Not everything needs to be so curated!
EMBEDDED: What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I love ASMR videos, especially roleplays where the general premise is something like “Hotel Receptionist Is Really Nice To You.” My workout routine is also almost exclusively one yoga YouTuber, Boho Beautiful. The first time I did one of her videos, I was so frustrated that I actually gave it a thumbs-down before feeling bad and undoing it. But I stuck with her, and now I rarely stray toward anyone else.
In recent years, I’ve discovered that I carry a genetic affinity for watching music videos while drunk. My father, a former alcoholic, made this his primary hobby throughout my teen years and it used to perplex me. Now, there is little I enjoy more when imbibing than sitting on my couch with a group of friends and letting the Korn videos roll.
EMBEDDED: How do you keep up with the online discourse? How important is it to you to do this?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I burden myself with the online discourse of Twitter on a daily basis. It’s almost a compulsion. But I do find it extremely important that I do so—I’ve made a good deal of my writing money by contributing to the online discourse in long form. If I weren’t a writer, I believe my loved ones would prohibit me from using the app at all.
TikTok offers something similar, though it’s less outwardly stressful. I often write about trends I see there and find it important to stay somewhat on top of TikTok accordingly, though I am increasingly finding that all it does is encourage me and others to shop.
EMBEDDED: What’s one positive media trend? What’s one negative trend?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: The normalization that social media provides is a double-edged sword. It’s good, for example, that people feel more comfortable talking about money thanks to the TikTok salary transparency trend. But I often see this attitude applied too broadly. People seem to feel compelled to share every little freaky detail of their lives. There are too many “What I Eat in a Day as a Pescatarian Circus Clown Who Refuses to Eat Beige Foods”-type videos. Let’s keep a little bit to ourselves. It’s time we reinforced the idea that a little bit of mystery is sexy.
EMBEDDED: Do you have a take on Tumblr?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I’d like to get back on it. I’m finding that Twitter is increasingly being used as Tumblr was, not just for absolutely insane hot takes but for moodboard posting, sharing “aesthetic” photos. For the latter part, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. This specific picture on Twitter of a woman on a dirtbike breastfeeding a child also in motocross gear is what sold me on it.
EMBEDDED: Are you in any groups on Reddit, Discord, Slack, or Facebook? What’s the most useful or entertaining one?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I am not a poster on Reddit, but I am an active lurker. My favorite groups are ones about mysterious occurrences in the woods. r/Missing411 has blown up into its own universe and focuses primarily on disappearances in national parks, with Bigfoot considered a popular culprit. My favorite subreddit, though, is r/BackwoodsCreepy, which mostly features first-person stories of bizarre happenings, be they the result of real people or alleged cryptids. I really can’t get enough!
I have also made much of my career off writing about niche fetish subreddits and the communities within them. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend perusing them yourself, but you can learn a lot about sexuality and the state of our sexual culture by visiting groups like r/CensoredforBetas. NSFW, obviously.
EMBEDDED: What most excites you about AI chatbots and text and art generators? What most concerns you?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I am somewhat of an AI optimist in that I am optimistic it just won’t be that big of a deal in the ways I care about. I don’t think it’s going to take my job. I do think it will have an impact upon our sexual culture, the topic I’m most focused on, but not for everyone. Some people seem to believe that AI will eliminate content featuring actual people, that many men will resign themselves entirely to AI girlfriends. I for one am committed to the supremacy of the real.
EMBEDDED: Are you currently playing any console, computer, or phone games?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: I have recently begun devoting hours and hours of my life to Harvest Moon: Winds of Anthos on the Nintendo Switch. I have actually dramatically decreased my iPhone screentime because of this. I even brought it with me to Europe. There is nothing more fun to me than running around scavenging mushrooms.
EMBEDDED: What’s the last thing that brought you joy online?
MAGDALENE TAYLOR: This video of Norman Finkelstein talking about “gooning” made the rounds on Twitter a bit, and I’ve been waiting for this moment. I introduced Finkelstein to the term a few months back when I read this essay of mine at a Mars Review of Books event he also read at. He was so aghast by the topic — of which I was critical — that he went on a podcast later and talked all about it. I am happy that other people can finally witness the absurdity of the moment.
I’m also seeing and hearing Creed more regularly online at the moment. Whenever I hear “Higher,” I get goosebumps.
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